Early Beginnings

Trotting Meetings in Dunedin got underway in earnest with the first meeting of the Tahuna Park Trotting Club in May 1892. The sport made steady progress, but it became apparent that Tahuna Park was too small. This led to 30 acres of Forbury Park being bought in January 1909 for L6240 on an instalment plan and the club settling in there under the name of Forbury Park Trotting Club.

Forbury Park, a reclaimed swamp, had originally been home for the Otago Jockey Club which raced there between 1871-1899. The club, faced with heavy expenditure to continue racing at Forbury, bought the property it now occupies at Wingatui in 1899.

A five-furlong (1000m) track was laid at Forbury Park and the first meeting there featured eight races on the Friday and the same number the next day in 1909.

Verax, trained and driven by Claude Piper for New South Wales owner John Buckland, won the main event, the Forbury Cup for a stake of 200 sovereigns on the second day. The totalisator handled £4456 pounds on the first day and £5534 pounds on the second day.

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The Interdominions

In 1965 Forbury Park hosted the Interdominions, they were talked about at the time as Dunedin's biggest drawcard since the South Seas Exhibition of 1926 and, on the front page of the Otago Daily Times of January 15, ran an article predicting the series would prove to be the biggest money-spinner for Dunedin since the goldrush.

The Forbury Park Trotting Club was only awarded the Interdominions after Auckland, whose turn it was to stage the series, turned the opportunity down in 1963. That left the club 16 months to prepare to host Australasia's premier harness racing contest.

It is the only Interdominion in New Zealand held outside Auckland or Christchurch in the 73-year history of the series.

The Interdominion came to Forbury Park four years after the club switched from day to night racing, with the first South Island night meeting there on January 26, 1961.

The racecourse's existing facilities were deemed insufficient and so a new stand - considered at the time as the most up to date in New Zealand - was constructed at a cost of £106,000 (the average wage at the time was under £50 a week).

The Forbury Park Interdominions marked the first time the series had been held under lights in New Zealand and the first time the races were broadcast live (on radio) since the club had changed to night trotting in 1961.

The advent of night racing was preceded by the installation of an all-weather tracks. A clay track gave way to crusher dust at Forbury Park at the start of the 1960-61 season.

The series lived up to expectations in many ways, with 15,760 people attending the final night on March 3 (a Wednesday!) and 52,354 attending the four nights in total.

The £147,901 on-course betting total on final night was a record for Otago and Southland, while the off-course figure of £182,362 was the largest bet on a night trotting meeting to that point.

The Otago Daily Times of March 4 recorded that over the series the racegoers consumed 45,000 cups of tea, 50,000 pies, 2000 gallons of beer and chips equivalent to 100 sacks of potatoes.

The racing itself had a sensational climax when the pacing final ended in a dead-heat between Jay Ar and classy mare Robin Dundee, but only after Jay Ar was originally decorated as the outright winner and was parading with the victory sash while Robin Dundee was taken to the stabling area.

Poupette, trained and driven by Winton horseman Harry Cox (grandfather of present-day reinsman Jonny Cox), won the Trotters' Final at odds of 21:1.

The club applied for the series in 1975 but was refused by the governing body on the grounds the series had become too big to be held other than in Auckland or Christchurch.